Sunday, August 26, 2007

The History of Chinese Calligraphy-Ming Dynasty 1369 - 1644

The History of Chinese Calligraphy

Ming Dynasty 1369 - 1644
The Mongols ruled China for less than 100 years. In 1368 a rebel leader became the emperor of China. His dynasty, the Ming, lasted for just over 300 years.

The script to officialdom. Two years after its founding, the Ming restored and improved imperial examination and prescribed regular script as standard style for the examination. Seeing handwriting the essential feature of proper education, artistic expression gave way to the impression of a trained hand. The techniques accuracy was stressed, but great attention was given to produce a sharp, meticulous and clean print. Lead by the Imperial Academy, a cluster of sample calligraphers, and practiced in the classrooms across the country, this style, known as Official Style, remained essentially unaltered till the civil service system was abolished in 1905.

Shen Du (1357 - 1434)

Shen Can (1379 - 1453)
Ink on rice paper.

Write to trade. The brisk commodity economy, in which the capitalist sector was gradually identified with Western civilization, afforded scholars the market to trade their handwriting. Quite many calligraphers and painters, known as Wu School, sprang up in Suzhou, or Wu in abbreviation, the national commerce center. Mixed with the taste of bourgeois, scholarly practice of Song master-calligraphers was taken up to challenge Official Style.

Four Wu Masters.

Shen Zhou (1427 - 1509)
Zhu Yunming (1460 - 1526) 1
Leisure in Autumn

Tang Yin (1470 - 1523)
Couplet Poem
Wen Zhengming (1470 - 1559) 2
Thousand of Characters
Chen Chun (1483 - 1544) 3
Poem Inscribed on Rice Paper Fan
Wang Chong (1494 - 1533) 4
White Sparrow Temple

The dawn of modernism. Condemnation to Confucianism and its Song commentaries by the end of the Ming invested Chinese calligraphy a daring, unconstrained appearance. Cursive and semi-cursive script continued to enjoy prevailing popularity for their literary quality. Technical accuracy was de-emphasized in favor of sweeping and odd effect. And works in large size were counted for impression. Imbued with rebellious spirit, this current heralded innovations in Qing dynasty, and its influence lasted into the modern times.

Four Ming Masters.

Xu Wei (1521 - 1593)

Poem of Ink
Xing Tong (1551 - 1612) 1
Calligraphy after Wang Xizhi
Dong Qichang (1555 - 1636) 3
Personal Letter
Mi Wanzhong (1570 - 1628) 4
Poem on Rice Paper Fan
Zhang Ruitu (1570 - 1644) 2
Huang Daozhou (1585 - 1646)
Wang Duo (1592 - 1652)
An Incomplete Manuscript
Ni Yuanlu (1593 - 1644)
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